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Patients with Fontan failure are high-risk candidates for heart transplantation and other advanced therapies. Understanding the outcomes following initial heart failure consultation can help define appropriate timing of referral for advanced heart failure care.
This is a survey study of heart failure providers seeing any Fontan patient for initial heart failure care. Part 1 of the survey captured data on clinical characteristics at the time of heart failure consultation, and Part 2, completed 30 days later, captured outcomes (death, transplant evaluation outcome, and other interventions). Patients were classified as “too late” (death or declined for transplant due to being too sick) and/or “care escalation” (ventricular assist device implanted, inotrope initiated, and/or listed for transplant), within 30 days. “Late referral” was defined as those referred too late and/or had care escalation.
Between 7/2020 and 7/2022, 77 Fontan patients (52% inpatient) had an initial heart failure consultation. Ten per cent were referred too late (6 were too sick for heart transplantation with one subsequent death, and two others died without heart transplantation evaluation, within 30 days), and 36% had care escalation (21 listed ± 5 ventricular assist device implanted ± 6 inotrope initiated). Overall, 42% were late referrals. Heart failure consultation < 1 year after Fontan surgery was strongly associated with late referral (OR 6.2, 95% CI 1.8–21.5, p=0.004).
Over 40% of Fontan patients seen for an initial heart failure consultation were late referrals, with 10% dying or being declined for transplant within a month of consultation. Earlier referral, particularly for those with heart failure soon after Fontan surgery, should be encouraged.
The Advanced Cardiac Therapies Improving Outcomes Network (ACTION) and Pediatric Heart Transplant Society (PHTS) convened a working group at the beginning of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim of using telehealth as an alternative medium to provide quality care to a high-acuity paediatric population receiving advanced cardiac therapies. An algorithm was developed to determine appropriateness, educational handouts were developed for both patients and providers, and post-visit surveys were collected. Telehealth was found to be a viable modality for health care delivery in the paediatric heart failure and transplant population and has promising application in the continuity of follow-up, medication titration, and patient education/counselling domains.
Patient- and proxy-reported outcomes (PROs) are an important indicator of healthcare quality and can be used to inform treatment. Despite the widescale use of PROs in adult cardiology, they are underutilised in paediatric cardiac care. This study describes a six-center feasibility and pilot experience implementing PROs in the paediatric and young adult ventricular assist device population.
The Advanced Cardiac Therapies Improving Outcomes Network (ACTION) is a collaborative learning network comprised of 55 centres focused on improving clinical outcomes and the patient/family experience for children with heart failure and those supported by ventricular assist devices. The development of ACTION’s PRO programme via engagement with patient and parent stakeholders is described. Pilot feasibility, patient/parent and clinician feedback, and initial PRO findings of patients and families receiving paediatric ventricular assist support across six centres are detailed.
Thirty of the thirty-five eligible patients (85.7%) were enrolled in the PRO programme during the pilot study period. Clinicians and participating patients/parents reported positive experiences with the PRO pilot programme. The most common symptoms reported by patients/parents in the first month post-implant period included limitations in activities, dressing change distress, and post-operative pain. Poor sleep, dressing change distress, sadness, and fatigue were the most common symptoms endorsed >30 days post-implant. Parental sadness and worry were notable throughout the entirety of the post-implant experience.
This multi-center ACTION learning network-based PRO programme demonstrated initial success in this six-center pilot study experience and yields important next steps for larger-scale PRO collection, research, and clinical intervention.
Patients with single-ventricle CHD undergo a series of palliative surgeries that culminate in the Fontan procedure. While the Fontan procedure allows most patients to survive to adulthood, the Fontan circulation can eventually lead to multiple cardiac complications and multi-organ dysfunction. Care for adolescents and adults with a Fontan circulation has begun to transition from a primarily cardiac-focused model to care models, which are designed to monitor multiple organ systems, and using clues from this screening, identify patients who are at risk for adverse outcomes. The complexity of care required for these patients led our centre to develop a multidisciplinary Fontan Management Programme with the primary goals of earlier detection and treatment of complications through the development of a cohesive network of diverse medical subspecialists with Fontan expertise.
Optimising short- and long-term outcomes for children and patients with CHD depends on continued scientific discovery and translation to clinical improvements in a coordinated effort by multiple stakeholders. Several challenges remain for clinicians, researchers, administrators, patients, and families seeking continuous scientific and clinical advancements in the field. We describe a new integrated research and improvement network – Cardiac Networks United – that seeks to build upon the experience and success achieved to-date to create a new infrastructure for research and quality improvement that will serve the needs of the paediatric and congenital heart community in the future. Existing gaps in data integration and barriers to improvement are described, along with the mission and vision, organisational structure, and early objectives of Cardiac Networks United. Finally, representatives of key stakeholder groups – heart centre executives, research leaders, learning health system experts, and parent advocates – offer their perspectives on the need for this new collaborative effort.
Acute heart failure related to anaphylactic shock is often reversible and necessitates aggressive support to ensure full recovery. We report the case of a 15-year-old boy who developed severe ventricular dysfunction and haemodynamic instability after administration of amiodarone and required temporary mechanical circulatory support with a left ventricular assist device. He had full recovery of cardiac function and returned to baseline neurologic status. This is the first report of successful left ventricular assist device use for recovery from cardiovascular collapse due to anaphylaxis.
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